How many grains do you REALLY need.

This is a good question. I found most water we fish is within 60 feet of land and 2 to 5 feet deep. Now fishing 400 to 600 grains with tips will handle these conditions. If a greasy seam 80 to 100 feet out looks good how do you plan to swing it? by the time you chop it up and guess what depth your fly is at with water turbulence I feel this has become a casting day, not fishing. Where are the majority of the fish hooked up? The Dangle? the last 20-30 ft.? the fish followed your fly in and seen it a mile away (if you have been stealth on your wading). I feel 400 to 550 grains is plenty with tips and the right fly for the water (eyes or naked). These grains allow you to cast a variety on the menu of modern technique: snake rolls, pokes, downstream pokes, circle Spey, etc, etc. I love how big grains and heavy dredge tips hook up but I can't see the value here on our rivers. Whats your outlook? Not to snipe at anyone so this is in respect and ultimately just another opinion.
+1 here on the above. Had to 'take a look' and do an inventory of my lines. Would appear, save for rods in the 9/10 weight, only a couple (and Dear God I've got too many) lines (leaving full sinking lines out of this equation) very few would hit the 600 mark. But I guess that goes to the lines sent to me (new rod purchases) from Bob Meiser and Gary Anderson. In both cases the 'grains' of the line were at the very bottom end of that recommended for the particular rod.

Would appear both fellows know my 'casting style' all too well. Slow pick up, slow movement forming the 'D-Loop' then "Peddle to the Metal" on the forward cast. In both cases, the custom lines were about 30-50 grains over the minimum recommended for the rod.

Am I an "open book" to our local 2-hander community?

Open book?

Alright Fred, you asked for it. As Fred readily admits, his casting style is less energy in the sweep, and hit it hard at the end. He also is quick to raise the rod tip at the very start of the sweep. Resulting in a very wide open D-loop, lacking in energy. Which is why he needs to whack the hell out of it at the end to get anything to happen.
To his credit, Fred does manage to throw a tight loop and get some distance in his casts. Often times however, the line comes down on the water while the cast is still trying to unroll. To me, this is a big no-no, as the result is immediate drag. A deterent to acheiving any kind of depth. Fred gets around this not only by making a hellatious mend, but his Rogue River two fly rig, fished from a long leader, rather than a sink tip, gets down quick.
It works for Fred. He does catch fish. I try to cast his rig, and it's as if nothing is there to load the rod. The comparison between his rig and mine are like night & day.
But to get back to the question of how many grains do you need, it is totally dependent on the size of the fly you are trying to deliver. And by deliver, a cast that dies before it's time does not count. Fortunately, up to your waist in cold, colored up water, backed up to the trees conditions, while it may require a big heavily weighted fly, usually does not require extremly long casts. The challenge here being how do we get enough grains in an extremely short head/tip system to get the job done?
My answer to that is simple. Grains, grains, & more grains! The sink tip needs to have enough grains to turn over the fly. However, since the swing may be short, the ability to hold depth after bring the fly under tension is not of great concern. Therefore, we can get by with a shorter sink tip. The belly needs to have enough grains to transfer energy to the sink tip. The D-loop has to, one way or another, develope enough energy to load the rod. Make the rod do the work so you don't have to. If you don't have room for a 3X, or even shorter, rod length D-loop and have to pull some of the head back inside the tip, you have lost grains.
Grains plus water tension plus kinectic energy is what makes it all happen. If any of these is lacking, it must be made up for somewhere else.
I must plead 'Guilty as Charged' to Jim's comments above ... almost. :>)

"He does catch fish. I try to cast his rig, and it's as if nothing is there to load the rod. The comparison between his rig and mine are like night & day." True ..... Jim is a 'grains are good' kind of guy (bye the bye, Jim IS a damned good caster with a 2-hander; his casts just 'flow out' over the water); but I've evolved (right choice of words?) into a light is good in my choice of rods for my style of fishing. Part of the learning curve of casting 3 to 5 weight 2-handers has been a 'YOU'VE GOT TO LIGHTEN UP ON THAT FORWARD PART OF THE CAST YOU VILLAGE IDIOT!' Again, probably why the lines that the Meiz and Anderson supplied with the rods.

It's a you just can't go there with this light of equipment; ''Comprende' Gringo?'' (sp?) And Jim's right, given a choice I'll use a floater with a long leader (15-18 foot) off any of my rods; big mend included to get the flies (usually two if legal) 'deep/down/dirty/ASAP.' In the odd occasion where I actually use a full-on sink tip (a rarity) on a 8-9 wt**, it's back to square one 'learning' how to cast one of those Buggers. Poly-sink tips I do use if forced into a corner of 'no choice;' but I guess I'm just 'old school' when it comes to what's on the end of the fly line.

As Jim notes above, correctly is suspect, the low number of grains I'm usually throwing don't have the 'mass' needed to keep a long cast in the air while the 'rest' floats out. But, as 90% of the fish I hook are within 30 foot of the bank I'm standing on .. does it really matter if you could hit 100+ feet?

Just thoughts.

** For context, for me a 7wt is 'perfect' for most winter/higher flow conditions. Only go above that if I actually must. Physical limitation (hands) are now in control. Growing 'old is not for the faint of heart' as Gloria Swanson is reputed to have said.......

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